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ACES Forum for Parents of Exceptional Children Held at the Watson College

Monday, January 05, 2015

ACES Forum for Parents of Exceptional Children Held at the Watson College

New Hanover County Schools’ Advisory Council for Exceptional Students (ACES) held a parent forum at the Watson College on Nov. 17 titled “Keep It, Change It, Dream It.” The purpose of the forum was to gain input on the needs of children and families, and feedback on the special education services offered in New Hanover County Schools (NHCS). Ninety-two people attended the inaugural event.

Crystalyn Schnorr, assistant professor of special education at the Watson College and WCE’s representative member of ACES, said the forum was a success. “We were pleased with a diverse turnout that included parents, community agency representatives, NHCS staff and ACES members and with the dynamic dialogue at the event,” Schnorr said.

Topics included the IEP process, communication, advocacy and awareness, support for struggling learners in the general education program and transition. Three specific trends emerged from the event.

“We learned that many parents have a lack of awareness, including the IEP process, available resources, and acronyms and language used in the field of special education,” Schnorr said.

Participants also expressed a need for additional resources and support for children and families, and concern over a lack of consistency among programs offered across schools. 

On Dec. 16, ACES representatives presented recommendations to the New Hanover County Schools Board of Education at an open work session. Recommendations included enhancing the NHCS Special Education webpage, further enhancing the role of special education chairpersons in schools, creating a parent resource center and identifying research-based models for special education programs that can be applied consistently across schools.

“Parents and other forum participants provided us with actionable feedback,” Schnorr said. “We hope to use it to constructively deliver to their needs.”

ACES plans to host additional parent forums in the future to keep the lines of communication open, she said.

The mission of ACES is to raise school and community awareness concerning children with special needs and their families, to obtain information and make recommendations on service delivery to the New Hanover County Schools Board of Education, and to provide support to those serving children with special needs.

The council was created following the 1975 passage of a resolution by the North Carolina State Board of Education calling for the establishment of local advisory councils for children with special needs.

For more information, visit www.nhcs.net/sped